Strangers and Dead People
But it's also partly that the words of strangers and dead people don't often have much for me now. Time was they could slap me across the face and make me change my life. But now they're more often white noise, even the classics: I use them to keep myself from thinking, not to think. I have spent too much time with them. It's living people I need now: it's your warm breast under my palms, your blog post, your voice on the phone, your email, the light of your eyes.
I come out of Central Library and the light falls, as it does in early Spring, crossways; there are shadowed canyons and bright pools of sky, beggars and county officials, women with lined faces, sherrifs painfully shaved, patient dogs tied to backpacks. The inarticulate love rises and makes my throat contract. There will never be words for this. But I know that the same sun is rising in Chennai, and that you are seeing the colors as painfully as I am. And I know that tonight my hand will rest lightly on the crown of your head, and the hair will be so soft that it will seem to move of its own accord. And you will send me email about something trivial that will make me realize, suddenly and completely -- as Tolstoy used to do -- I have to change my life: that the snow on your side of the continent is telling me things that I need urgently to know.
It's you, now, that hammer me, mark me, shape me.
Soon I'll have a birthday, and I'll have as many years as there are cards in deck. Imagine that!
Who would have guessed I would get so far? Or have such luck as to know so many brilliant and wonderful people? Some scientists speculate that the universe is tending, not to ever-increasing uniformity, but to ever-increasing improbability. I wouldn't know, but I know that has been the pattern of my life. It becomes less predictable, less known, less knowable, with each passing year.